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joey salcido
IRE levels HD
on Oct 27, 2010 at 12:23:32 am

Hello, I know that there have been many posts about IRE and black levels but I still couldn't find what I was looking for. I shot my project in HD with a Sony EX1 HXCAM and edited with Final Cut Pro 7. Watching the project on DVD or Blu-Ray on a flat screen television looks fine. However, I've been to about 10 film festivals and in all of them my film turned out dark with the blacks crushed. I've screened with DVDs, Blu-Rays, Digibetacam and HDCAM, all of them were dark on the theater projector, even the festivals that used modern and operating movie theaters. On a regular TV it looks fine.

At the second to last film festival that I attended, the projectionist changed the projector setting to 0 IRE and finally the film looked the way it was supposed to on a projector. He also told me that a lot of other places won't be able to accommodate me with this adjustment. Sure enough, the next festival that I attended I had to sit through yet another dark screening of my film because he couldn't or didn't know how to change the setting.

What can I do to fix this problem? at these other festivals I seemed to be the only one with this issue. I thought that IRE 0 and 7.5 was only an issue with analogue video.

Thanks!


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Matt Lyon
Re: IRE levels HD
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:03:01 pm

Hi Joey,

You can read a (rather old) article about 7.5 IRE here:

http://www.glennchan.info/articles/technical/setup/75IREsetup.html

But right off the bat, was your master tape color corrected and QC'd on a properly calibrated broadcast monitor? If it wasn't, you can't necessarily trust that the tapes you sent to festivals will reproduce the way you expect them too.

The trick your projectionist did might just be addressing the symptom of the problem, not the root cause.

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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joey salcido
Re: IRE levels HD
on Oct 28, 2010 at 2:14:46 am

Thank you Matt,

Do I need to raise the black levels on the whole project? But, why does a DVD or Blu-Ray look good on a television and then dark when fed through the projector?

Thanks,

J


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Matt Lyon
Re: IRE levels HD
on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:13:17 pm

Hi Joey,

The fact that your film has looked dark at every festival points to a problem with the source material, not the theaters in question.

As we said before, until you've watched your master tape on properly calibrated equipment, (and hopefully with a colorist or HD video tech in the room), you can't really assess what steps to take to fix the problem. That should be your first move, imho.

But I have found that small screens are subjectively more forgiving of material that is on the cusp of being too dark. Still, you can't really make judgment calls of the picture quality based on DVD playback on a random television.

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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joey salcido
Re: IRE levels HD
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:13:08 am

Hey Matt, thanks for the advice. I went ahead and tried what you mentioned. It looked good on the color correction monitor with the blacks on the waveform monitor at 0% in FCP (like I had them). It also looked good on dvd and blu ray, yet still through a projector the blacks were crushed. I feel like I'm missing something.

JS


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Matt Lyon
Re: IRE levels HD
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:36:58 am

Hey JS,

I don't know if there is much more I can add. Without being able to see what you're describing, anything I say is going to start veering into Wild A-- Guess territory.

My advice is still the same: get a second opinion! Find an expert who can sit with you from grading, through output, through projection and tell you where things are going wrong.

As for the waveform monitor (I'm assuming this is an external box you are talking about, not the built in monitors in FCP) ... I can't offer too much help because I haven't done much work with HD video with the benefit of an outboard waveform monitor.

But when it comes to SD video, if you are working in NTSC in North America, your blacks should line up to 7.5 IRE, NOT 0. Anything below 7.5 will be crushed on a properly setup playback device.

Matt Lyon
Editor
Toronto


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joey salcido
Re: IRE levels HD
on Nov 4, 2010 at 5:47:31 pm

Thanks for everything Matt! I'm sure I'll get it figured out now. I appreciate your help.


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Rafael Amador
Re: IRE levels HD
on Oct 27, 2010 at 10:25:29 pm

Hi Joey,
I'm from PAL land, but for what I know, you are right, the 7'5 IRE is only an issue of American NTSC Analogic.
When you work all-digital, you don't have to care about. When you go analog, the system (DVD player, video card) must add the 7.5IRE. I guess an American DVD player will add it by default. In the case of a video card you have t set it by your self.
I'm not sure if your issue is related with the 7.5IRE, or is a gamma issue.
You need to watch your stuff in a broadcast monitor to judge your picture. A flat screen TV or even a projector won't give you the cue.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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